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Positive Psychology is the Secret to a Happy Life

Have you ever heard of positive psychology? If you haven’t you’re in for a treat…

positive psychology, positive psychology and depression

What Makes People Happy?

We’ve  heard the stories of people who “have it all.” They own a multi-million dollar business, they have fancy cars and designer clothes – but they are not happy. Clearly wealth doesn’t make us happy.

We all know of inspiring stories from people who have faced serious disabilities (think Stevie Wonder, Christopher Reeve or Stephen Hawking) who are very happy and accomplished in their lives. Clearly circumstances don’t make us unhappy.

So what makes us happy then? The answer is positive psychology, or your perspective.


WHAT IS POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY?

The definition of positive psychology is: The study of what makes life worth living.

We know it’s not trivial things like wealth, fame, recognition or accomplishments. So dwelling on those things (or lack of those things) is like being sad that you dropped your ice cream cone, when you have a full bucket of ice cream right beside you.

Don’t be sad about the things you don’t have, be happy about the things you do have. 

The positive psychology cycle looks like this:

Words become our actions, actions become our habits, habits become our character and our character dictates our future.

Positive Psychology Chart Millennialships

Basically it boils down to this: our thoughts dictate our lives. So might as well make our thoughts as awesome as possible right?

The Goal: Make normal life more fulfilling

The goal of positive psychology is to make regular life more fulfilling. This doesn’t mean actively trying to change anything about your life (ie. trying to make more money).

It simply means looking at what is going well in your life, and being grateful for what is working.

I know that when we are facing the most difficult depression or sadness, it can be hard to be grateful for things we have, because it can feel like so little.

The things that are making you sad are perfectly legit, but we are not talking about those things.

When we practice Positive Psychology, we don’t think about those other things, we fill our thoughts with the things that are working out. 

Remember, our thoughts dictate our lives. 

Our body needs us to nourish it properly and give it exercise, this is how we develop a healthy body. The way to develop a healthy mind is with positive thoughts.

Now this is not easy, but it can be learned.

It’s just like working out. No matter how hard we try, not all of us are cut out to be body builders with 8 pack abs.

But all of us can benefit from a little exercise every day.

Same with our thoughts. Some people are just naturally happier or positive people but it doesn’t mean that you can’t do this as well. If you work out your brain (it’s a muscle too!) it will get stronger and develop habits of healthy thinking.

We need to live in our heads for our whole lives, might as well make that place as comforting as possible.

Use Your Strengths

Positive Psychology forces us to focus on our strengths. Whatever you are good at, spend your time doing those things.

If your boss told you that you did a great job on the project today, focus on that instead of the fact that you said something stupid to your co-worker at lunch.

If you made your family a delicous dinner, focus on that instead of the fact that the rice didn’t turn out perfectly.

Focus on the areas where YOU have control

All of us have aspects of our lives that we cannot control. Our height, body type, IQ, family members – these are all things that are out of our control.

Therefore these same things should be out of our thoughts. 

Dwelling on things that we cannot change is a waste of our precious time because… there are so many things we CAN change.

Our attitude.

Our communication skills.

Who we interact with.

Who we don’t interact with. 

You control your life. You control your thoughts. It’s really empowering to come to this realization.

Well being is not ALWAYS BEING HAPPY

Embracing positive psychology is the key to a happy life but it doesn’t mean we’re happy all the time. Sadness is a crucial part of our lives and we need to feel sadness, we shouldn’t push it down.

But well-being is about looking at that sadness as temporary. 

Just like a pro athlete might suffer a broken leg. The solution here is not to continue playing and cover up the pain of the broken leg. No.

It is to accept the broken leg and know that the setback is temporary. The athlete is still fit and healthy, they are simply going through a period of temporary difficulty.

PRACTiCe maKES PERFECT

Before you go, please take away a very important point.

Imagine a little boy who is awesome at basketball. He’s better at it than all the other kids.

Just because he’s the best in the class, doesn’t mean the other kids shouldn’t also play basketball.

It’s good for their health.

It’s good for their bodies.

And if one of the other kids practices really hard and devotes a lot of time learning how to play basketball. He might just catch up to the kid that was naturally good and didn’t have to practice in fact, he might even become better.

If thinking positively does not come naturally to you, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to do it.

You can learn it and you will be glad you did.

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Lana Otoya

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